Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Where Have You Been?

It's been a bit hectic recently, and not only that but we have had a few up's and down's as well!

So I will try and put things into to some sort of order to give you an idea of what has been happening to us.

I started with my new company, my driver training was not due to start until the 12th March, however last Wednesday I had confirmation I was starting the very next day!

I am lucky as an approved driving instructor that my road sense, and all round driving ability is fairly high and that my mirror checks are right on the button. This is invaluable when you are driving 12 tonnes of empty coach measuring over 40ft around!

Getting use to the turn and the over hang at the front is a challenge, but reversing is definitely easier than our caravan! You can see both ends of the coach, unlike a caravan that bends in the middle!

Talking of caravans, we went up to the ExCel show in London Docklands, with the view of looking at caravans and specifically the new Adria and Hobby.

Adria did not fit our layout that we wanted, and Hobby failed to bring any caravans to the show! We were bitterly disappointed with this and the management at Hobby were not helpful suggesting if I wanted a Hobby to drive to Derby to look at one. Well, you know where you can stick your Hobby's don't you!

So we had a look around at other makes and came across Bailey who had a layout the same as our current caravan. This was not our perfect layout, but what with the annoyance of Hobby we looked at the figures and it all made sense at the time to part exchange ours. We had decided on a Bailey Unicorn Pamplona. It would cost us a little bit more each month but, over a longer period of time.

We were all excited by this new purchase, but as the hours went by, doubt set in. Had we made the right decision? I've just started a new job, what happens if it all falls through? It wasn't exactly the layout we wanted so why settle for second best.

Some how we had lost sight of our main objective of being totally debt free within the next 24 months. Buying this caravan we certainly would not be!

So after a lot of soul searching we decided to cancel the order.

A rather tough decision as you can well imagine, but we feel it was the right decision.

It takes a while to get over the upset of not having a brand new caravan, which is why I haven't written anything for a while, besides that I have been studying all the information required to take my theory test which is next week!

Well, that's you all up to speed!

We have a move on Saturday to a site that we have not been to before. "M" wants to move closer to her kids as we have our first Grandchild due at the end of March. They live in New Milton. We are off to a site that is only a couple of miles away. We have a good price from the owners, and the site has a shower! A bit of a novelty for us as we tend to stay on really basic sites. But we got a good deal, so we thought we would give the place a try.

It may be next week before I get chance to write anything again, due to move and my exam in the early part of the week, so will catch up with you all then.

Till later....................

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Car Trailer Ideal For Camping Or Rubbish Clearance - Body 123cm x 92cm

I have put my old car trailer up for sale, it's on ebay at the moment and you can see it by clicking on this link HERE

If any one is interested please get hold of me asap as it ends on Sunday!

We are keeping our 8ft blue trailer as that is just too useful to get rid of, but this is now surplus to requirements as my days of maintaining gardens are over!

I've now got a start date for my PSV training which is on the 12th March, so a few days to go yet which is being spent route learning and avoiding being run over at the depot!

Some of the lanes that we are taking the coaches down certainly require a degree of skill, I wouldn't be keen on towing the caravan down them! Single track lanes, covered in thick mud with hedges and banks either side looked very daunting!

We are off to the ExCel in Victoria Docklands London on Saturday and possibly Sunday depending on how much we see on Saturday, we are staying with friends of ours Fred & Jill who live near Brentwood, so a short train journey in on the day.

We have pre-booked tickets for the Saturday, but will pay on the day for Sunday unless any kind Dealer, Manufacturer or Company would like to supply us with a pair of tickets. Of course a favourable write up here would take place in exchange of tickets!

"M" is currently cooking tea, and all is quiet here on site, with just one other here at the moment.

It's been a quite winter, we haven't seen many campers at all pull onto any of the sites we have stayed at! Where are you all?

Well, better get on, till later.....................

Saturday, 11 February 2012

A Cold Start To The Day

Just when we get lulled into a false sense of security with mild weather, no snow or frost, along comes the cold and kicks you hard!

We forgot to take in the hose connector from the caravan to the aquaroll, even though it is covered in insulation foam and then wrapped up it still managed to freeze.

At least it is sunny at the moment, though not too sure how long that will last. Inside our caravan as always it is warm as toast, so no complaints in here! China dog is getting a lie in this morning, not being a morning dog at all. It's now 0904hrs and she is still soundly asleep on our bed!

"M" is working this morning, though being full of cold she may be back any moment. I've got some photography to do once the awning has warmed up just a bit. It currently has the sun on it so wont take too long. My cold seems to be now lingering on, and not clearing away. 

I'm also selling a car trailer if anyone is interested, it's a good few years old, but it's sturdy and would make an ideal camping trailer.

I will be taking some pictures of it later so will upload one for all to see.

The Freelander failed it's MOT, but nothing too serious, the tie bar/rod has excessive play in the pin/bush which I will let the garage sort out, but the strange thing that it also failed on was that the front exhaust was not adequately supported.

A bracket is missing completely, with no signs of their ever being one in the first place it does make me wonder if the garage is at it!?

This is the first time we have used this particular garage as we normally take it to a friends garage, but as that is now a round trip of 60 miles we decided to use one close by.

Normally the MOT costs us £40 but we were hit with a bill for £55 straight away! Well, that's the last time we use this garage. It's easier and cheaper to give our friend a bit of work and take the time to travel up to Shaston.

I hate feeling as if I may of been stiched up. I know they say that they are reliable and this sort of thing does not go on anymore, but who are they trying to kid!

Well, better get on and do my chores, I cant wash up at the moment as the hose connector is thawing out, what an excellent excuse!

Till later....................

Friday, 10 February 2012

Got That Friday Feeling?

Its been a long week, I've finally started to clear my cold which was starting to get a bit tiresome!

It's also been a bit nippy first thing in the morning, and today we actually had some snow to contend with, not enough to worry about, but enough to get me out of bed earlier than usual as I hate being late. So I had to factor in the slow drive in. As it was the roads were fine, so I had an extra 25 minutes of hanging around, but better that than 5 minutes late.

Being a Friday, I'm looking forward to tomorrow and not having to get up before the birds wake up! We were planning on meeting up with "M"s cousin and Aunty on Saturday evening but a couple of nights ago "M"s Aunty had a major stroke and is currently in intensive care! Not good at all.

The Freelander is in for MOT today, this is the first time we have used this particular garage after being recommended it. We normally use a friend up in Shaston, but the 50 mile round trip to do this didnt really seem worth it. We would of only paid £40 for it there, but "M" has just found out it's costing £55 just for the MOT! I want it bloody valeted as well for that! Still haven't heard if it has passed or not yet, so it could be an expensive day!

This should be my last day down in Swanage working, as I am supposed to be going back to another depot on Monday. I will find out more later today. I still haven't started my driver training, but as they are paying me the same rate it's not really a problem. I'm happy to be paid for riding around on a coach!

Before I left this morning I did have a quick check to make sure that there was not too much snow on the roof of the awning, all was ok, when I left, and with no further snow forecast should of all melted off by the time I get home this evening.

Last year when it snowed I was up at 0400hrs broom in hand, trying not to get blown off the top of the step ladders as I tried to sweep the snow off! Such fun!

The drive in was uneventful, but there were still idiots overtaking me on the dual carriage way into Bournemouth. The outside lane was full of slush, driving through that at 70 plus is just suicidal in my view. It wasn't like I was crawling along either.

Depending on how much the MOT comes to we are thinking about going to the ExCel camping and caravan show in London next weekend. We have friends who live close by so the plan would be to stay with them and get the train/tube into the show. We want to look at the new Adria and another look at the Hobby range. I would love to by British, but when they can offer the same value for money as our Euro neighbours then I may consider it.

Mind you, if any company or manufacturer reading this would like to try and persuade us otherwise then please contact us and we can discuss things further. We are certainly willing to listen. Just think of the advertising you get, just like Lunar do at the moment!

So now I'm just waiting for some kind manufacturer or company to provide us with a pair of tickets to the show - I wont hold my breath on that. All though I must say that last year at the NEC show Lunar did do this for us. So a big thankyou to Lea in marketing for that.

Well, better be off, hope you all have a great weekend, anyone camping?

Till later................

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

-4 This Morning

It would appear that this winter has a sting in it's tail as this morning it was -4 when I set off for work at 0500hrs.

There is no moisture in the air, so no tell tail signs of frost, or having to scrape the ice off the windscreen. You just have to watch out for the ice on the roads, catching no doubt many people out.

There certainly seems to be a lot of wild life about at this time in the morning, yesterday the owls were screeching like mad, together with foxes making a right racket! Then as I was pulling away from the caravan a dear stood in front of me! All within 50 feet of our caravan.

Back at Shaston we used to get a badger run down the street every now and again, but that was about it.

I've been contacted recently by two couples who are at the stage of either living full time or seriously considering living full time in their caravans. I still think that living the way we do has enabled us to keep our heads above water with a degree of dignity whilst things have been tight. I really do dread to think what would of happened to us if we had stayed put in the house.

It's certainly a less expensive way to live, but not only that I feel that it's a rewarding way to live. Every day I have to fill an aquaroll up, just being able to stand still, and take in my surroundings and listen and watch what is going on around me is a real pleasure, no matter what the weather. How many of you who live in a house actually go outside everyday and stand for 3 or 4 minutes and actually do that?

Filling up during the day, I notice, especially this time of year, the growth of daffodils and snowdrops, buds on tree's. At night I listen for the owls, or look up and just look at the stars. The rustle in the bushes from roosting birds or rabbits scurrying around. There is always something going on.

I know for a fact that if I lived in a house I wouldn't see any of that. So yes I am richer in so many ways, and long may it continue.

Till later...........

Monday, 6 February 2012

Swanage Dorset And The Surrounding Countryside

I've been based down in Swanage which is right on the South coast of Dorset.

So many places of interest around this area and some amazing views to be had, especially when sitting up high in a coach as I have been these last couple of weeks.

In Swanage they are currently repairing the rail at the station, as over the years it has sunk and required a major overhaul, this is taking place as we speak, it has been interesting to watch the work taking place on a daily basis. Swanage Railway is run entirely by volunteers after it was sold off by BR during the early 1970's.

We have traveled on this railway a couple of times, when we have been doing the vintage show at Harmans Cross in September.

I have also been travelling through Corfe Castle and Wareham on a daily basis, after first going through Bournemouth and Poole.

It only takes a quick click on the links above to see why I feel very lucky to live very close to these amazing places.

Only trouble being is the grockles during the summer, clogging up the roads and generally getting in the way. But as we rely considerably on the tourist trade then we shouldn't really complain too much!

This year the Olympics are taking place at Portland which is just out side of Weymouth. They have built new roads in and out of Weymouth as it was a terrible drive in during the summer, but with the expected increase in people something had to be done. However, no matter what you do, there are only narrow roads for the last couple of miles. It will be interesting to see how the millions of pounds that have been spent on road works will work, or not, as the case may be!

It's warm compared to the last few days! I may even go for a stroll later along the sea front!

My cold is finally starting to clear up, mind you it's touch and go a bit in the morning, with a bit of coughing and spluttering, but once warmed up I'm OK. Today is the best I've felt in over a week!

I've also now signed up for the A-Z Challenge, if you want to find out more about this, click on the link for more info and what's it all about. They can tell you in far greater, and better detail than I.

Till later.............

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Snow - It Came And Went!

The winter weather we were expecting to see sort of passed us by here in East Dorset.

It did snow, and gave a little sprinkling, but it soon turned to heavy rain which washed it all away.

Water on site was restored today, this I am very thankful for as our only means of getting water here whilst the water was frozen was from a very small hand basin in the site loo. The problem being that it was too small to attach a hose to the tap. I had to use a coffee mug to fill the aqua roll!

I gave up counting how many mugs I'd used at 50 and shortly afterwards gave up the will to live as well!

We used salt water to finally clear the last of the ice out of the waste pipe, and have now stocked  up on some salt to run through last thing before we go to bed. It worked really well.

Other than that we survived the cold snap! I do have to make clear that inside the caravan it is warm as toast, we keep the heater on at night, this cuts down condensation and damp. I also hate getting up in the cold so it has to be on!

I often flick through other forums and often find that folk say that there caravan is cold, damp and they would never consider using it in the winter. All I can say is, your doing something wrong!!

Also that the majority of caravans are not suitable for staying in during the winter! If you were new to caravanning then you could find this very off putting, but speaking from experience. As long as you are set up for winter then, there is absolutely no problems with staying in a caravan or indeed living in one as we do!

OK, so our waste pipe froze, but I wonder who else who lives in a traditional house had a burst pipe or a frozen waste outlet!? I suspect there were plenty.

We have now survived our lowest outside temperature of -11 it only got down to -9.5 last year.

Only a few more weeks and spring will be here, there are plenty of signs of it all ready with the daffodils showing all ready.

Well, that's the weekend done and dusted, we had a lazy one as money is still tight, but at least we have a regular supply from myself coming in now! So it will get better.

Just as well as the Landrover requires it's MOT at the end of the week. Fingers crossed that everything goes through ok. It flew through last time, so there hopefully there will be nothing too seriously wrong.

Up at 0430 tomorrow morning, hopefully this will be my last week of getting up at this daft time.

So, till later..................

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Winter is here!

The last few days have seen it getting progressively colder, and with that there is always the threat of things freezing up.

So, "M" set about making new aqua roll covers, which have been deployed. Preventative measures have been taken to make sure that we don't freeze up.

For the last few nights we leave open all lockers under the front seats and chest of draws to help air circulate, and last night as the temperature was so low we cranked the heater up, which made it almost too hot for sleeping but better that then freezing up.

We even brought in the aqua rolls in to the awning, raised them above ground level and kept their jackets on.

However, at -11 even the best laid plans fail!

Don't get me wrong, I'm currently sat warm and snug in the caravan with a temperature of 22 degree's so personally we are not cold at all within the caravan itself.

The aqua-rolls, even with the steps we took turned to slush puppies over night and are now thawing out next to the heater in the caravan! The caps were frozen on solid!

Our kitchen sink waste has frozen, this due to the "U" bends in the pipe as it goes through the chassis rails of the caravan. Good design Lunar! Even with the pipes detached from the outlet sockets, there is still the chance it can collect and freeze which it has done.

The water on site is also frozen, nothing we can do, it's the price we pay for living how we live.

As always we keep a keen eye on the weather forecast, and from what I can make out, it looks as if it will cloud over and warm up later then pour with rain! With the temperatures being what they are and not having a great deal of faith in the BBC forecasters, I have this horrible feeling that it may cloud over, remain just around freezing, then snow like mad!

I'm hoping that I am wrong, as with the ground now being rock hard, snow will quickly accumulate and bring us to a stand still!

I have also discovered that Jack Ratt Vintage Cider at 7.4% has a very low freezing point and due to its acidic content would probably make a good car window washer fluid! It survived a night in the awning in a flimsy plastic container sat directly on the ground! Not a hint of slush. The aquarolls in their jackets, thick plastic containers, above ground level froze! Which further proves my many scientific experiments over the years that if you drink strong cider it keeps the cold away!

Tonight I will be doing some further research into this matter, to prove my theory! I wonder if I could get a government grant for this? Stranger things have happened!

I have also been had by the dreaded lurgy this week, a heavy cold, aches, streaming eyes and nose make for a long and uncomfortable day when you are getting up at 0415 and getting in around 1820 at night! Wednesday night I was in bed for 1920 and out for the count!

I still haven't started my driver training yet! But as they are happy for me to sit along side another driver learning routes and the workings of the company and get paid for it I'm not complaining.

Over the last few months our finances have taken a complete and total battering, so we are slowly starting to claw our way back to the surface again. I don't think it will take us too long to recover, March at the latest I hope, and all debts will be cleared.

As I write this the sun is shining, all is quiet here on site, "M" is at work this morning, and China dog is wrapped up in a blanket and not moved off of our bed! She doesn't like mornings or the cold! So today she is in heaven!

I'm going to have a milky coffee as we have no water easily available till the aqua rolls become a bit more like water and not like the polar regions. Then I will tidy up and make the place look a bit more presentable.

So, wrap up warm, for those of you who are expecting snow, get yourselves ready, and good luck!

Till later.......................................

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

It's Getting Colder

The last couple of days has seen the temperatures fall, we have had it easy so far this winter, as it has been very mild. But now that winter is here it is a bit of a shock to the system!

It's supposed to get colder as well, so we have begun to take the aqua-rolls in at night.

Last night we even opened the locker doors around the front seats and under the chest of draws to help with air circulation. The heater was also left on a little higher than usual.

I've been at my new company for just over a week now. In 11 years of being self-employed I never took a single day off sick, and I can't remember the last time I had a cold, it was at least 4 years ago, but within a week, Ive got a full blown cold, with streaming eyes and a thick head. Not fun at all.

But I'll soldier on, just have to keep dosing myself up.

At least the sun is shining today, even if the wind tends to cut you in half. I'm down on the coast, it's just too cold to wander around the beach. Especially with your eyes and nose streaming!

Long days are taking it's toll, I was in bed for 2030hrs last night! But to be honest that was more to do with feeling rough than anything else.

Nothing much else to report at the moment, so will sign off.

Till later.......................